This game can make or break what most would call a “successful season.”
Nevada leads the nation in rushing as a team, averaging 341.1 yards per game, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick (102.2 ypg) and running back Vai Taua (110.0 ypg).
The Bulldogs are no stranger to players that can run the football. They’ve faced Utah State’s Robert Turbin, who rushed for 138 yards against the Bulldogs, and Boise State’s Jeremy Avery, who went for 185 yards.
This will be a tough test for the Fresno State rush defense. The unit allows 169.7 yards per game on the ground. If they have efforts as they did against Utah State and Boise State, it could be a very long day.
It’s time for this team to really show what it’s made of and show that the last five straight victories were not a fluke. Quarterback Ryan Colburn must lead the offense and not lean on running back Ryan Mathews to do it all.
The Bulldogs cannot overuse Mathews in this game. They can use him to soften up the defense, but Colburn must trust himself and make crisp passes, to keep the Nevada defense honest.
Todd’s Keys to the Game
This game is going to be won or lost on the defense side of the ball for the Bulldogs – give up big yardage to Kaepernick and Taua and this game could get out of hand quickly.
Nevada is giving up just 104.9 rushing yards per game, so they’re not going to give up yards easily. The Bulldogs cannot use Ryan Mathews time and time again to the point where Nevada really doesn’t have to play the guessing game.
Ryan Colburn has to step up and have the best game he’s had thus far this season. He’s got to be the leader. The crowd is going to be fired up and they’re going to be noisy. Colburn needs to read the defense and change things up.
Running back Ryan Mathews can’t carry the load himself. Running backs Robbie Rouse and Lonyae Miller need to put some of that pressure on themselves and give the Nevada defense a different look when they carry the ball. Making an impact with the ball in their hands will open up the field for Mathews when he’s in the game.
Take the crowd out of the game quickly. Just like the ‘Dogs did against Idaho last week, get on the board early. If Fresno State falls behind, it gives the crowd an even bigger reason to stay loud throughout the game. Get a few scores early in the game, keep that lead and it won’t give Nevada the momentum to climb back in the game.
Game Prediction: Fresno State 27 Nevada 24
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